CSU, Chico News

Anthropology Professor Works with Students on Documentary About Sexual Assault

Date: 09-19-2012

Anna Harris
Public Affairs
Jesse Dizard

California State University, Chico anthropology professor Jesse Dizard has created a documentary film, “Someone You Know,” about the high rates of sexual assault in the United States.

He worked from February 2011 until June 2012 with what he calls a “dedicated and savvy” group of students—including assistant directors Hannah Clause and Nicole Hook, editor Santy Gray and photographer Jack Goldberg—through the Advanced Laboratory for Visual Anthropology, using the lab’s state-of-the-art video cameras and other equipment. They interviewed more than 30 people and cut more than 45 hours of footage into a 22-minute film.

Anthropology professor Brian Brazeal served as executive producer. Brazeal renovated the visual anthropology lab and purchased a Red Digital Still Motion Picture camera in 2011 thanks to a $286,646 grant from the National Science Foundation’s Major Research Instrumentation Program. He describes the lab as “a unique facility, unmatched by any [academic] laboratory for anthropological cinema.”

The resulting film looks closely at the troubling realities of sexual assault, particularly on college campuses: Women are most likely to be attacked by someone they know and often trust. Every two minutes, someone is sexually assaulted in the United States. One out of six American women will be a victim of rape or attempted rape in their lifetime.

The film features many people from the CSU, Chico community, including students, counselors, campus police and survivors of sexual assault.

“Participating in the project was meaningful to me, as I work with so many students who are survivors of sexual assault,” said Mimi Bommersbach, a counselor at the Counseling and Wellness Center. “I hope this video will be used on our campus to create awareness and more dialogue about the ubiquity and severity of this crime.”

Andy Houghtby, interim operations lieutenant at the University Police Department, also appears in the video. “The CSU, Chico police department and I take campus safety and security very seriously,” he said. “We want to provide the campus community with as much information to keep them as safe as possible, and this film is another tool to bring attention to this serious topic.”

The goal of the movie is to get people talking and thinking in a way that a scholarly journal article would not, said Dizard. “Film brings us into the lived reality of other cultures—it is the next best thing to being there.”

This is particularly valuable in his classes, he added. “As a teacher, I find film useful to draw students in and then say, ‘OK, let’s start reading.’ ”

“Someone You Know” will be broadcast Nov. 8 at 9 p.m. on KIXE Channel 9. Public screenings on campus are being planned for this fall.


Read the full story on Inside Chico Stateonline.